Samprati was an emperor of the Maurya dynasty. He was the son of Ashoka’s blind son, Kunala, and succeeded his cousin Dasharatha as emperor of the Mauryan Empire.
He was the only great Mauryan Empire after Ashoka and was a great patron of Jainism.
Claim to throne
Kunala was the son of one of Ashoka’s queens, Padmavati. He was blinded by a conspiracy to remove his claim to the throne.
Dasharatha replaces the Kunala as the heir to the throne. Kunala lived in Ujjain with his “Dhai Maa”. Samprati was brought up there.
After being denied the throne for years, Kunala and Samprati approached Ashoka’s court in an attempt to claim the throne.
Ashoka could not pass the throne to his blind son. But he promised Samprati would be the heir apparent after Dasharatha.. After the death of Dasharatha, Samprathi inherited the throne of the Maurya Empire.
Reign of Samprati
According to the Jain tradition he ruled for 53 years. Pariśiṣṭaparvan, Jaina’s text, mentions that he ruled both from Patliputra and Ujjain.
According to a Jain text, the provinces of Saurashtra, Maharashtra, Andhra, and the Mysore region broke away from the empire shortly after Ashoka’s death (i.e., during Dasharatha’s reign), but were reconquered by Samprati, who later deployed soldiers disguised as Jain monks.
Samprati and Jainism
He is noted for his help and efforts to spread Jainism in east India. While in one source, he is called as nominally a Jain from birth (Sthaviravali 9.53), most accounts indicate his conversion at the hands of the Jain monk Suhastisuri, the eighth leader of the congregation established by Lord Mahavira Swami.
After his conversion, he was recognized for actively spreading Jainism to many parts of India and beyond, both by making it possible for monks to travel to barbarian lands and by building and renovating thousands of temples and establishing millions of idols. He was a disciple of Suhastisuriji.
Around 1100 CE Devachandrasuri of the Purnatalla Gaccha told the story of Samprati in his commentary on the Textbook on Fundamental Purity (Mulashuddhi Prakarana), in a chapter on the virtues of building temples.
A century later, Amradevasuri of the Brihad Gaccha included the story of Samprati in his commentary to the Treasury of Stories (Akhyana Manikosha).
In 1204, Malayaprabhasuri, a disciple of Manatungasuri of the Purnima Gaccha, wrote an extensive Prakrit commentary on his teacher’s Deeds of Jayanti (Jayanti Carita), in which he included the story of Samprati as an example of the virtue of compassion (Caudhari 1973: 201-2).
There are also some anonymous and undated medieval texts devoted solely to the story of Samprati, such as the 461-verse Sanskrit Deeds of King Samprati (Samprati Nripa Charitra).
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